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Halleck's New English Literature eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 491 pages of information about Halleck's New English Literature.

Taine’s English Literature.

Courthope’s History of English Poetry, 6 vols.

Stephens and Lee’s Dictionary of National Biography (dead authors).

New International Cyclopedia (living and dead authors).

English Men of Letters Series (abbreviated reference, E.M.L.)

Great Writers’ Series (abbreviated reference.  G.W.).

Poole’s Index (and continuation volumes for reference to critical articles in periodicals).

The United States Catalogue and Cumulative Book Index.

SELECTIONS FROM ENGLISH LITERATURE[2]: 

Pancoast and Spaeth’s _Early English Poems_. (P. & S.)[3]

Warren’s _Treasury of English Literature, Part I_. (Origins to Eleventh Century:  London, One Shilling.) (Warren.)

Ward’s _English Poets_, 4 vols. (Ward.)

Bronson’s _English Poems_, 4 vols. (Bronson.)

Oxford Treasury of English Literature, Vol.  I., Beowulf to Jacobean;

Vol.  II., _Growth of the Drama_; Vol.  III., _Jacobean to Victorian_. 
    (Oxford Treasury.)

*_Oxford Book of English Verse_. (Oxford.)

Craik’s _English Prose_, 5 vols. (Craik.)

Page’s _British Poets of the Nineteenth Century_. (Page.)

Chambers’s Cyclopedia of English Literature. (Chambers.)

Manly’s English Poetry (from 1170). (Manly I.)

Manly’s English Prose (from 1137). (Manly II.)

Century Readings for a Course in English Literature. (Century.)

CHAPTER I:  FROM 449 A.D.  TO THE NORMAN CONQUEST, 1066

Subject Matter and Aim.—­The history of English literature traces the development of the best poetry and prose written in English by the inhabitants of the British Isles.  For more than twelve hundred years the Anglo-Saxon race has been producing this great literature, which includes among its achievements the incomparable work of Shakespeare.

This literature is so great in amount that the student who approaches the study without a guide is usually bewildered.  He needs a history of English literature for the same reason that a traveler in England requires a guidebook.  Such a history should do more than indicate where the choicest treasures of literature may be found; it should also show the interesting stages of development; it should emphasize some of the ideals that have made the Anglo-Saxons one of the most famous races in the world; and it should inspire a love for the reading of good literature.

No satisfactory definition of “literature” has ever been framed.  Milton’s conception of it was “something so written to after times, as they should not willingly let it die.”  Shakespeare’s working definition of literature was something addressed not to after times but to an eternal present, and invested with such a touch of nature as to make the whole world kin.  When he says of Duncan:—­

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